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Data: Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index; Chart: Axios Visuals

Used cars are the poster child of the pandemic economy — and prices are on the way up again.

Driving the news: After two months of cooling wholesale used vehicle prices (what dealers pay), costs increased 5.3% in September from their August levels.

  • They're 27% higher on average than a year ago, according to the Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index released Thursday.

Why it matters: Inflation trends are under the microscope as the Federal Reserve weighs taking its foot off the economic gas pedal to prevent markets from overheating.

  • Soaring car prices are one of the biggest drivers of inflation indexes this year. But the cost increases are almost completely a result of global supply chain problems, as opposed to loose monetary policy.

Catch up quick: A chip crisis that originated in Asia manufacturing facilities last year and is now a full-blown supply chain nightmare has led to a shortage of new cars.

  • As an alternative, customers sought used cars in droves, sapping supply and sending prices through the (sun)roof.

Eye-popping stat: The individual model that's seen the biggest jump this year is the 2020 Toyota Corolla four-door sedan, with an average value of $19,450 on Oct. 1, compared to $13,600 a year ago (43% increase).

What's next: Used cars will continue to defy history and behave like appreciating assets — in the short term, anyway.

  • Manheim anticipates that by December, average vehicle values will be up 30% for the year.

Go deeper

Rising car prices fuel AutoNation's great year

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Chip shortages could be viewed as a blessing for AutoNation at this point.

Driving the news: The car chain reported its sixth-consecutive quarterly earnings record on Thursday. That's thanks to higher consumer prices driven by production constraints.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Oct 22, 2021 - Energy & Environment

The economic spillover from high energy prices

The 6 megawatt Stanton Solar Farm outside of Orlando, Florida. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The World Bank and International Monetary Fund are out with fresh warnings about the energy commodity run-up, but both also see some relief ahead.

Driving the news: The IMF, in a post on Thursday, projects prices will moderate in the coming months, but also says, "uncertainty remains high and small demand shocks could trigger fresh price spikes."

Existing home sales hit inflection point

Expand chart
Data: National Association of Realtors; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

Homebuyers were busy this summer: They closed on 6.29 million properties in September on a seasonally adjusted annualized rate, up 7% from August, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Why it matters: Lower mortgage rates made purchasing an attractive option, despite higher sales prices.